The Texas House of Representatives has approved a pro-life bill that would place sweeping regulations on the abortion procedure, including a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Amid protests by hundreds of demonstrators and after several hours of debate that went throughout Sunday evening and into the following morning, the House voted 95 to 34 in favor of the bill.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the Texas chapter of Right to Life hailed the passage of the bill, which went before the Senate on Monday afternoon.
"There were endless delaying tactics practiced by those in opposition to the bill, but the bill sponsor, Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, stood strong against all attacks and proudly fought for the Preborn babies in Texas. Thank you all so much for your prayers on this important and historic bill!" reads the statement.
"Now, the Senate must vote on a motion to accept the House changes. Filibusters have been threatened until the special session ends, and we need your prayers on this last step as well. Thank you for standing with us; we are close to the end!"
The House bill derived from Senate Bill 5, which was introduced by Republican Sen. Glenn Hegar and passed by the Senate last Tuesday in a vote of 20 yeas to 10 nays.
Among its provisions, SB 5 included a measure to require abortion clinics to be held to ambulatory surgical centers' standards. Critics of the bill argue that the cost for clinics to enact such standards would close all but a few of the Lone Star State's abortion facilities.
Although the Senate version of the bill had the controversial ban on abortions after 20 weeks pregnancy, it was removed during the amending process. During its debate over the bill, however, the House added the 20-week ban.
From the onset, pro-choice groups have been critical of the proposed legislation, with Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards saying in a statement that the bill would harm women's health.
"If this passes, abortion would be virtually banned in the state of Texas, and many women could be forced to resort to dangerous and unsafe measures," said Richards.
According to Chris Tomlinson of The Associated Press, House Democrats did what they could to stall the bill's vote as the special session concludes Tuesday.
"House Democrats hoped to stall long enough for their colleagues in the Senate to filibuster the bill on Tuesday night," wrote Tomlinson.
"They used parliamentary tactics to draw out the debate for 15 hours Sunday night and into Monday morning, pointing out technical mistakes in the process or trying to tack on amendments to fundamentally change the bill. Democrats also showed up more than two hours late Monday morning."